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Is the Budget a topic for a homily on the Good News?

The Central Statistics Office, according to its most recent data, shows there was a significant change in Disposable Household Income between 2009 and 2010. That’s the “take-home” amount after deduction of taxes, social insurance, and such charges. All amounts here are averages over the group. Social Justice Ireland (socialjustice.ie) analysed the data.
Dividing the population into 10 equal parts, the 10% who had the lowest disposable income in 2009 received €10,973; in 2010, this reduced by €2,045 to €8,928.
The 10% with the highest income in 2009 received €118,667. In 2010 this increased by €4,870 to €123,547. This increase alone is more than half of the disposable income of those on lowest income.
Over a longer period, from 1980 – 2010, we see a similar pattern when we look at the share of the total income of everyone in the country.
In 1980, those in the lowest 10% received 3% of the total national income. In 2010, this went down to 2.06%.
In 1980, those in the highest 10% received 24.20% of the total national income. In 2010, this increased to 28.5%.
This increase alone is twice the total income of those on lowest income.
So, in 1980, the wealthiest received about 8 times as much as those with least. In 2010, they received about 14 times as much as those with least.
Most shocking of all is that people do not seem shocked to hear this, as if it’s the normal way of things, or that it’s wrong but there’s nothing whatever we can do about it.
This is clearly not a sign of a just society. Of course, those with most contribute most to taxation, but they are well cushioned. How can it be just and fair that those with least are again losing out in the Budget announced on December 5? Is this the kind of republic we want? The government has a tough job, but they did not have to insist that those with least would again have to suffer yet more loss. There were other options which would bring in just as much or more.
Where is the Christian voice in this? On Sunday 16 December we read of people coming to John the Baptist, and he tells them: “Whoever has two coats, let them give to a person who has none.” This is not how the Budget this year, and for many years, has been decided. Many voluntary organisations do magnificent work in helping, but they should not be faced with the enormous increase in demands. Why are official church voices silent? The Gospel, the Good News, shows a different way.

Pádraig McCarthy

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  1. Pádraig, what an excellent article. Thank you. Sadly, I do not think there are enough egalitarian, Christian, socialists among us.

  2. Sean McDonagh says:

    I totally agree with Pádraig’s article. We are cutting benefits to carers and yet, our corporation tax at 12.5 percent is one of the lowest in Europe. In fact, as David McWilliams pointed out last week in an article entitled “Corporation tax will turn us into world pariahs” (Irish Independent, 12 December 2012, page 7). Why couldn’t we have raised corporation tax to 14 percent?

    The argument that, if we did, all our transnational corporations would flee our shores doesn’t stand up. The Irish government which is playing Scrooge towards to poor and vulnerable of our society, is involved in bestowing corporate wellfare on the rich.

  3. Kathleen Faley says:

    I agree with Padraig Mc Carthy that there should be more speaking out on Social Justice Issues such as the unfair burden placed on the poor, the handicapped and the most vulnerable in society in the homilies given at Mass each weekend. Maybe one of the reasons it doesn’t happen is because of Priests, Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinal’s own political affiliations which really should have no place at all in the proclamation of God’s Word and defence of the weakest and most vulnerable in society is influenced by their own political affiliation to one party or another. Maybe things are beginning to change as in today’s Independent newspaper Cardinal Sean Brady was calling for protest on fighting the introduction of abortion to this country. But there is no point in calling for such a protest unless he and the Archbishops, bishops and priests are out there in front side by side and shoulder to shoulder with the poor and the vulnerable and deprived in society. Such action would be an inspiration to the poor and vulnerable and deprived and give them the hope they need. Jesus combined Word and Action using both equally to show His Solidarity with the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised in Society. Jesus believed in acting out of his conviction that the poor, vulnerable and marginalised needed to experience that solidarity of support on the ground. The cutting of the carer’s allowance and children’s allowance shows up the government in a very poor light as they are seen to be displaying more and more hardness of heart and less and less compassion on the weak and vulnerable in society.

  4. Padraig,
    You make an excellent case for risking mixing a bit more political and social commentary into our homilies. The Gospel message needs to be coherently anchored in current realities. Because of your blend of clear thinking and lucid style I always love to see your views on the ACP website. Keep up the good work!

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